December 9, 2013
Get It Now!Hardball Times Annual is now available. It's got 300 pages of articles, commentary and even a crossword puzzle. You can buy the Annual at Amazon, for your Kindle or on our own page (which helps us the most financially). However you buy it, enjoy!
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Monday, July 29, 2013
Braves 5, Cardinals 2: That was somewhat unexpected. A less-than-dominant Braves team sweeps the best team in the National League. The key was Kris Medlen allowing two runs on eight hits. The key all series was good starting pitching from the Braves. So of course the big talking point everyone has is how Jason Heyward hit leadoff, as if that made all the difference.
Dodgers 1, Reds 0: I was gonna say "1968 called and wants its game back," but in 1968 this would have ended with a bunt single, a passed ball, a steal of third and then a sac fly. As it was we had 11 innings of shutout ball for Dodgers pitchers. Ten innings of shutout ball for Reds pitchers and 20 strikeouts too. Then Yasiel Puig ended it with a walkoff homer. A lot of people would call this game a drag. This is something close to ideal for me.
Tigers 12, Phillies 4: Eight run difference, eight unearned runs allowed by the Phillies. All in one inning. Eight losses in a row. At the moment the Phillies are dog poop in a paper bag placed on a doorstep and lit on fire. Someone is stepping on it and it's a big mess because it's dog poop in a bag that's on fire, see, and that's what you do and oh my good what a stinky fiery mess these Phillies are.
Marlins 3, Pirates 2: Jose Ferenandez struck out 13. Seventy-four of his 97 pitches were for strikes. Man this kid is good.
Indians 6, Rangers 0: The second straight shutout for the Indians over the Rangers. Ubaldo Jimenez did the heavy lifting here, allowing only two hits over eight innings. The sweep for Cleveland and four straight overall. The Indians were supposed to have a lot of question marks in the pitching department this year -- and they are just below league average in runs allowed per game -- but they lead all of baseball with 14 shutouts.
Nationals 14, Mets 1: The first game of that doubleheader on Friday was a disaster, but the next three were pretty spiffy. They held the Mets to three runs in those three games and yesterday saw this offensive explosion. Wilson Ramos with a grand slam.
Yankees 6, Rays 5: Welcome back Derek Jeter. The Captain homered in his first at bat following his time off for the quad injury and five innings of scoreless bullpen work saved Phil Hughes' bacon.
Cubs 2, Giants 1: Travis Wood did it all. One unearned run over seven and a 2 for 3 day at the plate with a run driven in. The Cubbies sweep the Giants, who are now in last place, 10 games back. If it makes anyone feel better, they have the second best record of any last place team in baseball. Hmm, that doesn't make anyone feel better? Welp.
Blue Jays 2, Astros 1: it was a rough day until the ninth inning for Colby Rasmus, but then he drove in Emilio Bonifacio with a game-winning single. Not a bad year for Rasmus. Pretty good one in fact, after it looked like he had hit a developmental dead end these past couple of seasons.
Rockies 6, Brewers 5: Troy Tulowitzki homered and doubled, helping the Rockies come from behind after the bullpen Rockied all over itself. Michael Cuddyer, Dexter Fowler and Corey Dickerson also homered.
Red Sox 5, Orioles 0: David Ortiz went 4 for 4 and managed not to destroy any inanimate objects this time. Jon Lester looked like April-vintage Lester and the Sox win the series and regain first place. It was their first series win over Baltimore in two years.
Padres 1, Diamondbacks 0: One run in the first was all Patrick Corbin allowed, but that was one more than Tyson Ross and Huston Street did. Ross tossed eight shutout innings, allowing only three hits.
Royals 4, White Sox 2: A two-run homer for Alex Gordon in the 12th proved to be the game-winner. That's six straight for Kansas City, which pulls the Royals up to .500. They are seven games back in the Central and five back in the Wild Card. I don't personally think they have the mojo to move up more than this, but if they do it would be a humdinger, wouldn't it?
Athletics 10, Angels 6: Yoenis Cespedes drives in four, shaking off the rust and pain from the All-Star break and the Home Run Derby. Oakland now has a six-game lead in the West. That's the A's biggest margin of the year. And in years, in fact.
Mariners 6, Twins 4: Nick Franklin with two homers, giving him 10 on the year to go along with his line of .277/.340/.492. Not too shabby for a guy who didn't make his debut until late May.
Ten years ago today, Red Sox third baseman Bill Mueller had a game for the ages, the sort of game that most men—even most great sluggers—only dream of. On July 29, 2013, Mueller connected for two grand slams in one game, something just 11 people ever had done previously in a major league game. Not bad for a guy hitting eighth in the order.
It looked like a good day for Mueller early on in this game against the Texas Rangers. He first came up leading off the top of the third with the Rangers staked to an early 2-0 lead. Facing Mueller was a rookie making just his third big league start, future Cy Young Award winning knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.
Well, that Cy Young was still years away, as Mueller connected on the first pitch Dickey sent his way for a solo home run. That was a nice way to start the day, but it’s all the damage Mueller would do against Dickey. He retired Mueller on a grounder in the fourth and then left the game after five innings with the Rangers up, 3-2.
With four innings to go, this put the Rangers in a bad situation. While they had some solid core relievers in Francisco Cordero and Brian Shouse, overall the Texas bullpen was one of the worst in baseball. Its 4.92 ERA was second-worst in the AL. Well, today Mueller would help those relievers earn that rotten reputation.
Things went haywire for Texas in the seventh as six of the first seven Boston batters reached base. Boston’s rally had already plated three runs to give them their first lead on the day, 5-4, and left the bases loaded for Mueller. Facing Aaron Fultz, the third Texas pitcher of the inning, Mueller worked the count to two balls and two strikes, looking for a pitch to pounce on. He found it, pushing it over the fence for his third career grand slam and his first in a Red Sox uniform.
Well, Texas mercifully limped out of that inning without allowing any more runs, only to face a fresh round of carnage in the following frame. With Boston now on top, 10-4, Mueller again came to the plate with the based loaded. It was a new pitcher this time, mop-up man Jay Powell. As you might expect from a hurler handling garbage time for a garbage pen, Powell’s pitching was pitiful this year, as he surrendered 58 runs in 58.1 innings with nearly as many walks as strikeouts.
Well, there’s no point in building up any false suspense. Mueller swung and did it, hitting another grand slam home run. If Boston staged a third straight big inning in the top of the ninth, Muller would have a distant chance for four homers in the game. However, he’d already had his day and left for a backup. It made no difference, as Boston went down 1-2-3 in the ninth. But it was all over.
Mueller had his day: three home runs, nine RBIs, and two grand slams. Few batters ever have a day like that, but Bill Mueller did, 10 years ago today.
Aside from that, many other baseball events today celebrate their anniversary or “day-versay” (which is something that happened X-thousand days ago. Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d rather just skim.
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